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story.lead_photo.caption RICK PECK/SPECIAL TO MCDONALD COUNTY PRESS Music students at Noel Elementary and Junior High School surround their new piano after a donation from Whittenburg Church and the I'll Fly Away Foundation. From left to right are Kevin Bernier (I'll Fly Away Foundation), Shelley Jessen (Whittenburg Church), Cathy Little (music teacher at Noel), Betsy Brumley (I'll Fly Away Foundation) and LaDonna McClain (principal at Noel).

For Noel Elementary and Junior High School, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. A donation of a used piano from Whittenburg Church filled a need at the school that Principal LaDonna McClain said she was looking at doing something about.

"This was greatly needed in our building," McClain said. "We didn't have a piano. We have a lot of concerts and programs, and this is something we have been looking at for quite a while. We are very appreciative to Whittenburg Church for the donation and for the I'll Fly Away program for getting us together. It will be put to good use."

The church approached the I'll Fly Away Foundation about two extra pianos the church was wanting to find good homes for. Since the foundation is involved with the McDonald County School District through its songwriting classes, the foundation knew just the right place for the pianos to land.

Cathy Little, the music teacher at the Noel school, could hardly contain her excitement when the piano was delivered on Nov. 27, which was fittingly the National Day of Giving.

"I am very appreciative of getting a piano," Little said. "We desperately needed a piano and it is going to be a major help to us here at Noel Elementary School. I want to thank the Whittenburg Church and the I'll Fly Away Foundation so much. I am very grateful for their generosity."

In addition to the piano being donated to the Noel school, a second piano was gifted to Southwest City Elementary and Junior High School.

Even though the school already has a piano, music teacher Steph Wilkerson said the additional piano was still needed.

"I am so excited about this new piano," Wilkerson said. "I'll be able to use the piano to teach the music classes all the way from kindergarten through eighth grade. I want to thank Whittenburg Church and the I'll Fly Away Foundation for their generous donation of a such a great gift."

Sarah Messley, principal at Southwest City, said she is so appreciative of how well and often the community supports the school.

"They are always so proactive in finding ways to be a blessing to us," Messley said. "I just want everyone to know how appreciative we are of that and how much we enjoy having the community being such a big part of our school because we want to be part of the community."

Church member Shelley Jassen said the church had two extra pianos and needed to find a place where they would be used and taken care of.

"We thought of what a better way to see if our area schools needed them," Jassen said. "I got in contact with Betsy (Brumley of the I'll Fly Away Foundation) because I knew she would know who to contact at the school."

Brumley said, when Jessen contacted her, she knew right away of a couple of schools that could put the pianos to good use.

"What better way to support our local kids than by giving them musical instruments," Brumley said. "It goes along with the foundation's mission of improving children's lives through music."

Community on 12/13/2018

Print Headline: I'll Fly Away Foundation Surprises Children, Gifts Music in Light of Holiday Season

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